By Jeff Gallatin
A diverse group of religious, business and political officials formally made the Apartments at St. Richard a new home for community members on Dec. 11.
The assortment of officials dedicated the facility located behind St. Richard Church in a ceremony held before parishioners, workers, citizens and some of the 16 people who have already moved into the independent living complex. Its opening culminates several years of project development, planning and construction. The two-story building is designed to hold 34 residents in the 55-or-older age group.
The Most Rev. Bishop Richard G. Lennon of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland said it is a fine example of different parts of a community working toward a common goal.
“This certainly is an excellent example of many different aspects of our society coming together and working for the good of the people,” Lennon said.
The bishop led the audience in prayer while walking down the aisle of the audience, blessing the facility and those present.
Two other officials recalled their attending St. Richard School as youngsters in noting the importance of not only the new complex, but St. Richard Parish itself to the community.
Patrick Gareau, president and chief executive officer of Cleveland Catholic Charities, said being at the dedication ceremony was significant to him because of how special St. Richard is to him personally.
“This parish bore my faith,” Gareau said. “It gave me the foundation for my education and my career. I owe a lot to this community.”
North Olmsted Mayor Kevin Kennedy kidded Gareau that although they both had attended school at St. Richard, his time at the school was many years later than Gareau’s, also noting that one of the important things about having the apartments was having a new, quality facility for older residents. Kennedy cited the fact that 32 percent of North Olmsted residents are senior citizens.
“It’s a very important project, and I can’t think of a better location,” Kennedy said. “You are in proximity to everything you need with the (Great Northern) mall, restaurants, church and senior center a mile away.”
Kennedy said after the ceremony that it’s another good addition to the North Olmsted community, noting that it can help draw people to the city as well as those who would like to stay near family, friends and organizations they care about.
“You have to have facilities like this to help people stay here who want to be here,” he said.
Larry Murtaugh, executive director of Catholic Charities Housing Corp., said St. Richard deserves credit for allowing the project to be developed on its property, while also thanking other government, business and religious officials for moving the project forward.
The Rev. Charles Stollenwerk, pastor of St. Richard, said the facility already has many people wanting to get into it, quipping that if they had known how many people wanted to get in, they probably would have knocked down a building and put up an additional building for the project.
County Councilman Dave Greenspan said it was easy for county officials to support the project because it means a lot to North Olmsted, and will allow the residents living at it to enhance the quality of their lives.
Larry Benders, director of the Cuyahoga County Department of Development, said the county has a long and successful history of working with Catholic Charities, citing similar projects in Bedford Heights and Garfield Heights. The project obtained $300,000 in federal Housing and Urban Development grant funds with county assistance.